Saturday, February 8, 2014

Draw This: Line Tornadoes

Art is the only way to run away without leaving home.” - Twyla Tharp 

At first glance, these swirling patterns may look like the work of a master artist. The composition comes across as detailed and complicated what with all those spiraling, bulging cylinders that seem about ready to burst off the page. What the heck - it's an attack of killer tornadoes!

But on closer inspection, the eye can see that this creation is simply a whole bunch of curving lines.

There's something incredibly soothing and relaxing about repetition. From our formative moments near our mothers' heartbeats to the crash of ocean waves against the beach to the rhythmic sway of our arms overhead in the dark of a live musical performance, our lives are set in motion to a regular beat.

So is rhythm a satisfying part of the art world as well. In the case of this drawing, it's those gentle arcs, echoing one after the other with only the slightest variations in angle and size. Those repetitive lines create not only the visually amazing cyclone effect, but also a comforting experience for the artist.  This project within easy reach of any artist, and also as relaxing as a day at the spa. 

Here's how it's done.

^ Start with a plain piece of paper and a black marker. I like a medium point Sharpie. Draw a simple rolling line from one edge of the page to the other.

If you're the type of maverick who likes to do things differently, sure, go ahead and turn that page to a portrait style orientation.

Just remember that your line tornadoes are going to run perpendicular to this original line, so plan accordingly.

^ Along the length of the line, place 6-8 small dots. Don't overthink this. Just make dots.

^ Now, between each pair of dots, draw curving lines to connect them. You can make the new lines hug close to the original line, or you can put a fair amount of space in between them.

^ At the edges of the paper, where you have just one point, imagine another point that lies off the edge of the paper and draw a curing line that would meet up with that imaginary one.

^ Choose one area to work on, and repeat the curving lines as they ripple away from the original line. Let the exact length and angle of each new line ebb and flow; these variations in size will enhance the three-dimensional, tornado-y effect. Play around to see what interesting differences you can stir up.

Don't worry. You cannot mess this up.

^ Fill the page. Color or paint however you see fit.

When you're done, hold your drawing at arm's length, squint your eyes a little bit, and behold the effect. Don't scream! It's not a real killer storm cell. It's just a lil ol' pack of line tornadoes!

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Drawing is contagious - if you've caught the bug, try these posts for more ideas:

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